The Illinois Fighting Illini will play their first game of the Big Ten Tournament today against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The 2013 Big Ten Tournament is being hosted by the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Bowlin Stadium.
The Illini come into their first round game after ending the regular season on a very positive note. They finished the season winning 11 out of their last 12 games with their only loss being to the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Penn State Nittany Lions come into the Big Ten Tournament with an overall record of 15-33 and a Big Ten Conference record of 5-17. They ended their regular season 3-3 in their last six games. They won two out of three against Iowa before only winning one game against Nebraska in their final series of the regular season.
One of the biggest weaknesses of the Nittany Lions coming into the conference tournament is the youth of their team. PSU has less than seven seniors and, as a team, have experienced some growing pains this season.
One of the few senior leaders for Penn State this season has been Cassidy Bell. Bell does it all for PSU offensively. She leads the team in batting average (.454), runs (52), hits (59), doubles (12), homer runs (19), RBIs (41), slugging percentage (1.000), and stolen bases (17).
However, the Nittany Lions are only batting .265 as a team compared to their opponents’ .315 average.
When it comes to their pitching, Penn State’s led by freshman Macy Jones. Jones has appeared in 34 games while starting 21 games. She holds a 3.96 ERA and a 12-17 record.
As a team, the Nittany Lions cannot hold up with their 6.08 team ERA. Two of their five pitchers have an ERA over 10.
There is absolutely no reason why the Fighting Illini shouldn’t be able to pull out a win against Penn State.
Their offensive has been on a tear with Alex Booker leading the way. Booker has a batting average of .352, has 50 hits, and has stolen twenty bases. When it comes to Illinois’ pitching, Shelese Arnold and Pepper Gay have been giving the Illini a boost. In their last series against OSU, Pepper Gay threw two complete games to end the season in a doubleheader.
The winner of this game will play the 3rd-seeded Minnesota Golden Gophers on Friday.
Game Prediction: Illinois beats Penn State.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.
Like the us on Facebook at Writing_Illini.